By Anthony Raymond
When you hear the term 9/11 what first comes to your mind?
A portion of Americans can remember that infamous Tuesday morning as if it were yesterday. They can replay the events as if they had it recorded onto their DVR. They remember where they were and what they were doing as the various terrorist attacks took place.
I use the term “portion of Americans,” not because Americans have bad memories, but because there is now a growing portion of Americans who were not alive in 2001 or were not old enough to have a memory of 9/11. According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data, 31.7 percent of the US population is ages 0-24. I myself am 20 years old and I was 20 months old when 9/11 happened. Even though I was too young to witness 9/11 unfolding, I witnessed the foundation 9/11 built for my love of the United States of America.
I remember as a young kid growing up with a lot of red, white, and blue in my wardrobe. I remember those miniature American flags being in my house because my siblings and I would run around waving them. In my teen years I grew up in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia which is home to the largest naval base in the world in Norfolk, Virginia. Living in Virginia I learned about the sacrifices military families make like not seeing a parent for months or years at a time and in some cases not even knowing where their parent is deployed or when they will be back.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that our nation has been gradually losing the patriotic pride that 9/11 reignited. As politics have become increasingly polarizing, so have the people of the nation. As a nation we have increasingly divided people into the labels that make up a person such as: race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, and political affiliation. Rather than loving our neighbors despite their differences, we form prejudices based on the labels associated with people.
When firefighters and everyday Americans risked their lives to save people in the aftermath of 9/11, nobody was concerned with if the people they were saving voted for Bush or Gore. They did not care about the person’s skin color or what religion they are part of. Those heroes of 9/11 were there to save the lives of all their fellow Americans who needed a hand, not just the ones they would agree with. Today we as Americans need to emulate what the heroes of 9/11 did – loving all Americans equally. Even though we all have unique sets of ideas and beliefs, we all share the same unifying label of being Americans who strive toward life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.